Froid’Art warms up the winter

Martello Alley’s frozen public installation returns for fourth year 

Kingston’s coldest public art installation is back for its fourth consecutive year. 

Froid’Art is a series of 21 paintings frozen in ice blocks that stand in 18 different locations around the city. David Dossett, the owner of Kingston art gallery Martello Alley started the installation.

Four years ago, Dossett decided he wanted to create the winter art installation. The idea came from wanting his wife to have something beautiful to look at on her long after-dinner strolls. 

“My wife goes walking a lot, and after Christmas it gets kind of depressing outside … so I said, ‘what you need is an outdoor art display,’” he said.

Dossett and the six other artists from Martello Alley involved in Froid’Art paint scenes of typical winter recreations, recognizable local buildings and other subjects that provide them with inspiration.  

Initially, Dossett struggled over how to create a winter-themed art installation that wouldn’t be vandalized after his wife brought up the potential concern. 

For security reasons, ice seemed to be the perfect solution since it both suited the seasonal theme and provided adequate protection for the pieces — there’s not much you can do to a 300 lb block of ice.

One block this year presents a blown-up photograph of sunbathing flamingoes, another is a “Peanuts”-style drawing of a child pulling a friend on a toboggan, while another is an illustration of Martello Alley itself. 

 The blocks are scattered throughout Kingston. (Photo Supplied by David Dossett).

In Froid’Art, there are also blocks made from the works of artists unaffiliated with Dossett’s gallery. Three of the blocks this year are by artists Brenda Bielicki and her husband Piotr.

Another two pieces in this year’s installation come from two students from Module De L’Acadie — a middle school in Kingston. Martello Alley runs an annual contest for students who range in age from kindergarten to high school seniors, promoted through their Facebook page and website. Winners are given the chance to participate in the installation.

The two blocks by the contest winners stand this year in the courtyard entrance to Dossett’s gallery. 

“I took [the students’] design and enlarged it, traced it and filled it in for them,” Dossett said. 

He reiterated making the art in this way is the easiest part of the installation. After a piece is completely painted, Dossett sends it off to Iceculture — a company that specializes in hand-carved ice designs. 

The company then submerges the plexiglass art in one of the four tubs they use for the Froid’Art installation. They must use swirling cold water because it freezes clear, allowing passersby, including Dossett’s wife, to perfectly see the pieces. 

One of the pitfalls of the medium is the ice later becomes cloudy and almost entirely opaque once it begins to melts. When this happens, the art is obscured entirely by its frame. 

Despite this minor drawback, Dossett values the lasting impact of the pieces each year.

“After we’re done, we can mount it in a frame … and it’s another piece of art.”

 

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